Blacksmithing might not strike a lot of people like a common hobby, yet, it can be a pretty attractive idea to many as it involves skill, dedication, and making things with your own two hands is a reward in itself. However, as you might well suspect, blacksmithing requires a bit more know-how than other hobbies. Here is some advice to get you started:
The four essential tools you should not do without
First things first, you’ll need a forge. This is where you’ll heat the piece of metal you intend to work on. A forge needs fuel to work and also air, as well as a place where it should be away from your main house or any other things that can catch on fire.
Next, you will need some tongs or clamps. These serve the mundane purpose of holding your piece of metal so that you can keep it in the fire and then move it around without touching it with your hands. That is definitely a no-no, seeing the high temperatures needed for blacksmithing.
The following item on your shopping list as a blacksmith in the making should be an anvil. This is where you will work your metal. It needs to be robust, and take a lot of heat, pun intended.
And last, but not least, you need a sturdy hammer. Make sure to choose your working tool wisely, because being a blacksmith is all about hitting a piece of heated metal with a hammer. There are other things you will need, but these are the basics.
Get your metal to high temperatures
One common mistake beginner blacksmiths often do is that they pull the metal from the heat too soon. You might have heard the expression ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and it may be used in various situations, but it comes from blacksmithing. If your iron is not hot enough, you will have a hard time trying to shape it.
Don’t forget about fueling your fire
Another thing that is quite easy to overlook, especially when you get caught up in a rhythm, and you feel like everything is going just as it should, with you striking the metal and getting the shape you want, is tending to the fire. Don’t let it die out, and keep it hot, so that you can continue your operations.
Keep things simple
In all the excitement that might grab hold of you when you start blacksmithing, you may feel tempted to reach for your cash box, and spend every dime you have on tools and whatnot. Any blacksmith worth their salt can tell you that is a newbie mistake. While you should not skimp on quality, you should not overcrowd the area you use for blacksmithing with useless tools.
Be aware of fire scale
This is the name given to the black coating that appears on the hot piece of metal you’re working on, with changes of temperature. You should always brush it off, as it can spread on you while you’re hammering your stock, and, if it remains on your stock, it makes the end result look rough and not properly worked on.
The ash trap must be emptied religiously
Tending the fire is not enough to ensure that your blacksmithing does not stumble upon interruptions. You also need to keep an eye on the ash trap. If too much ash backs up, your fire will start sending hot sparkles everywhere. While some sparkles are to be expected, if your forge looks like it’s about to be used in a firework show, then it is too much.
Dealing with mistakes
As it’s the case with any new activity you might want to undertake, expect to make mistakes. Don’t let yourself discouraged. A lot of experienced blacksmiths, if not all, have had to deal with plenty of errors in their time.
Besides the obvious fact that without making mistakes, you won’t be able to learn new things, there is an upside to blacksmithing when it comes to errors. Unlike wood that needs to be thrown away, if a mistake is made while working on it, metal is recyclable. You can always heat up a botched piece of metal and work on it again.